Exhale, Cardinals fans: the wait is over. St Louis will be promoting starting pitcher Michael Wacha to start on Thursday against the Royals. Wacha was taken 19th overall in last June's Draft, and will be the second first rounder from last year to debut in the majors, following Orioles starter Kevin Gausman.
In Wacha's pro debut in 2012, he started the year in the GCL, but finished with AA Springfield with a stop in the Florida State League mixed in there as well. Over the three levels, the 6'6" right-hander struck out 40 hitters and walked just four in 21 innings. This year, he's spent the year with AAA Memphis, and has a 2.05 ERA in 52 2/3 innings, striking out 34 and walking 15. In his last three starts, Wacha has struck out 15 and walked only two in 18 innings.
The St Louis rotation has come under fire this year, and the incredible pitching depth that the organization has is coming into play sooner than anyone expected. Before the season began, Chris Carpenter's season apparently ended after he irritated his shoulder following surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome last year that nearly knocked him out for the whole season. Jaime Garcia had season ending shoulder surgery this month. Jake Westbrook was placed on the DL with elbow inflammation this month. John Gast, who was called up to fill one of those holes, was placed on the DL this weekend with a shoulder strain. Thus, the Cardinals rotation features ace Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and a trio of rookies in Shelby Miller, Tyler Lyons, and now, Wacha. The Tommy John surgery that closer Jason Motte underwent has necessitated Trevor Rosenthal sticking in the bullpen as Edward Mujica's main setup man, and prospect Carlos Martinez also had a role in the bullpen before being sent back down to AAA.
Despite all of this chaos surrounding their pitching staff, the Cardinals' 33-17 record is the best in baseball and they're holding off a pair of 30 win teams in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central. And despite this mess, St Louis still has the best ERA in baseball with a 3.13 mark through 50 games. Sometimes, when you're on…you're *on*, and right now, everything is coming up aces for the Cardinals despite some awful luck.